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While Dominica is praised for its pristine coastline and abounding rainforest, there is—indeed—another hidden gem that makes this island so wildly unique: The Kalinago Territory. Rich culture and community have become synonymous with Dominica and much of this can be attributed to the indigenous Kalinago population. Yet, because their territory remains unseen by many tourists, it’s imperative that we shed light on a society and way of life that contribute so profoundly to Dominica’s vibrancy.
A Rich History
More and more travellers are seeking enriched experiences from their vacations, which means it’s incredibly important to educate oneself on the history of their destination. Luckily, the Kalinago Territory is amongst the most historically-rich locales in all of the Caribbean. Dominica’s first people, the Kalinago—also known as Caribs—settled upon the island thousands of years ago. Yet, while European colonization certainly impacted Dominica, nearly 400 Kalinagos succeeded the struggle by the late 1600s. Today, approximately 3,000 Kalinago people reside within eight villages across their 3,700-acre territory on the east coast of the island.
An Art Form
Today, the traditional Carib lifestyle is best translated via artistic expression. Dominica’s indigenous people masterfully hand weave baskets, mats, hats, hammocks and more with straw and other dried materials derived from both palms and reeds. If you decide to visit the Kalinago Barana Auté—or Cultural Village—be sure to stop at the craft stalls to see and purchase their beautiful handcrafted pieces. The canoe, too, is quite representative of their indigenous roots as it symbolizes their ability to once freely roam the shores of the Americas pre-colonization.
A Beat to Their Own Drum
Music is integral to Kalinago culture and, today, remains as one of their most revered practices. Songs are often used in ceremony to celebrate, tell stories and appease spirits—both good and bad. Instruments are traditionally composed of raw materials found in nature, such as flutes made of bamboo and maracas made of calabash and seeds. And while their music has certainly evolved over time, feeding off of modern influences, its roots lie deep in traditional techniques.
So, now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of the Kalinago lifestyle, experience it for yourself. Rich memories can only be made firsthand.
*Photo Courtesy of The Wall Street Journal